I don’t know the word I’m looking for. It might be wisdom or knowledge. Or just experience. But I know it when I see it.
See it in someone’s eyes. Everyone can just tell. They seem illuminated. At ease.
And I knew I would never get that look for myself here. I would have to go find it. It was somewhere else. Calling it an adventure only because I didn’t know what else to call it.
The beginning of this search took two long rides on large planes and then flights on two small ones, the kind that jump up and down with every change in air speed or temperature, and then some boating and lots of hiking. I just felt that wherever I needed to go required real travel. An investment of time and effort.
What can you possibly hope to learn without getting blisters on your feet? Without foreign languages in your ear. And without some tangible risk. Not hypothetical, you have to be able to taste it. It has to be right there in front of you.
And then the realization that I’d ‘arrived’. I was, for possibly the first time in my entire life, in the right place at the right time.
I’d always felt like a stranger so that feeling wasn’t new, but here I saw clearly that circumstances dictated that some boys were men and circumstances allowed some men to remain boys. I’d suspected as much all along. Mostly due to the feeling that I remained a boy.
But to understand that some girls were women and some women girls… that was quite powerful. To be with a woman who was a woman left me feeling the same way you do after a heavy snow. A snow that swallows up all the sound and leaves you breathing in complete silence, standing in a giant empty expanse. Feeling altered and at peace.
To realize that you’ve been a stranger to yourself. To run your fingers over your own body for the first time. Examining yourself inside and out. Feeling your lungs expand. A skeleton walking around, wrapped in skin.
There are things you can experience only away from home. Things that help you realize what you didn’t appreciate at home, things you couldn’t possibly appreciate while home… but should have just the same. Simple things like food and shelter.
There are things you can only learn when you’re on your knees, hands stretched up to the sky and pleading.
And it’s only when the person you see in the mirror is no longer a stranger that you find what you were looking for in your eyes. Not striving to eliminate the dark, but to move through it with less fear.